City of Abilene receiving additional help with tornado recovery and relief effort

KTXS 12| May 27, 2019
By Nicholas Teresky

ABILENE, Texas — The City of Abilene has requested additional assistance in recovering from the tornado that touched down in the city on May 18.

The City of Abilene and 2-1-1 Texas have summoned an Emergency Management – Incident Management Team (IMT) to provide further help with the recovery effort after the city’s tornado on May 18.

BCFS Health and Human Services hosts family fun day


KTAB 4U | April 4, 2019 | By: Adam Singleton

BCFS Health and Human Services is hosting a day of family fun this weekend. We learn about the organization and how you can join them.

Event Details: Every Child Matters – Free Family Fun Day
Redbud Park
Saturday, April 9th
9:00 am – 11:00 am
Free
(325) 718-3322

BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene Bets the Farm This Halloween

 

The entire BCFS Health & Human Services’ Community Services Division (CSD)-Abilene office got in the Halloween spirit this year. The staff decorated doors and dressed up in costumes in a fun, lighthearted farm theme. BCFS-Abilene invited the families served through the Healthy Outcomes Through Prevention and Early Support (HOPES) program and the youth served through Preparation for Adult Living (PAL), Texas Workforce Commission, and Our House to take part in the event.

This year’s party gave families and youth the opportunity to trick-or-treat in a safe, fun environment on a rainy day. Among the families who celebrated with BCFS HHS-Abilenewasa farmer, a chef, a honey-bee, a pig, and even a corn stalk.

CSD-Abilene has more events lined up for the holiday season, including a Christmas Breakfast for youth, and a Polar Express-themed party for those in the HOPES program to include a special guest appearance by Santa himself.

 

A bumblebee buzzes by.

 

Read more about the BCFS HHS programs in Abilene.

Benefit Hunt Indicates Growth, New Activities for Youth

 

In only its second year, the BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene’s Big Country Children’s Benefit Hunt brought an increased turnout, with this year’s event hosting seven boys and two girls. The hunt provides youth from foster care an experience that ties them to the culture, tradition, and community in which they live.

“Here in Abilene, deer hunting is a bragging right,” said Alana Jeter, Regional Director of North Texas for BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene. “We try to give youth some of the opportunities they might have if they weren’t in foster care” said Alana, who attended Saturday’s hunt as part of the Community Services Division leadership who made the day and its events possible.

Every young adult who attended the hunt went through a selection process that required a thorough and thoughtful assessment from foster parents and the Texas Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS). The selected youth were given Hunter Education Certification in the weeks before the event, which gave the participants safety training and a hunting license.

Bright and early on Saturday, October 27, nine youth ages 15-18 ventured out into the 10,000-acre lease provided by Double Barrel Outfitters. Each of the young hunters was accompanied by a hunting guide who stayed with them throughout the day, providing supervision, assistance, and direction when needed. Will Meiron, BCFS Program Director at BCFS-Abilene served as one such guide.

Will remembers when the Children’s Benefit Hunt was merely an idea, and can appreciate what it has grown to become. “Finding the hunting guides – that was easy,” said Will, “but finding people to actually back the event was difficult.”

Kevin C. Dinnin, President and CEO of the BCFS System, had the infrastructure to make the event possible. “Kevin provided medics, insurance, and an ambulance,” said Will “He said, whatever you need, we can make it happen.”

Throughout the day’s hunt, BCFS-Abilene staff, local law enforcement, emergency medical technicians, and the sheriff’s department all encouraged a stellar experience by serving as a friend and support to the youth who attended. Taylor County even provided one of their own ambulances at the site for the day.

The Big Country Children’s Benefit Hunt has not only provided something special to youth in the Abilene area, but has also helped other individuals and agencies understand the benefits of activities meant to give youth from foster care a unique yet unifying experience. Two similar outdoor events have been planned based on the example set by the Big Country Children’s Benefit Hunt.

“I really hope that this is an opportunity for some of these kids to feel like a kid again,” said Will, explaining that the youth BCFS serves deserve a chance to break from the definition and stigma foster care can bring. “One boy got made fun of at school because his family didn’t have enough money to hunt, but last year he brought home three deer. He got to go back to school and tell his friends that he put meat in the freezer; that he got to feed his family and provide for them.”

Alana said, “I know [the youth] have an appreciation for all the people who came out and volunteered their time Saturday to spend all day with them. So often these kids don’t have anyone in their corner. The support itself is so important.”

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BCFS HHS-Abilene thanks this year’s sponsors :

Platinum

  • Double Barrel Outfitters
  • Stephens Wild Game Processing
  • Walmart #535
  • Cabela’s

Gold

  • Lawrence Hall Abilene
  • Karon Bingaman Hall and Harley Hall
  • Chris and Leonard Glasgow
  • Abilene Police Officers’ Association
  • Taylor County Child Welfare Board
  • Fire and Ice Heating and Cooling
  • Hall & Associates Service Group LLC

Silver

  • Your Ideas Inc.
  • Sorensen Photography
  • Trophy Case Taxidermy

 

To learn more about the services BCFS provides to youth in foster care, click here.

Celeste Garcia Named Executive Director – Community Services Division

Photo: Celeste Garcia

BCFS Health and Human Services has named Celeste Garcia as Executive Director of its Community Services Division. In this role, Garcia will oversee BCFS’ community-based operations, which offer services in every Texas county ranging from case management and counseling, to life skills trainings, parenting classes, college and vocational tuition vouchers for youth in foster care, shelter for young adults struggling with homelessness, and more. Garcia will assume this role on November 1.

Garcia currently serves as Associate Executive Director of BCFS’ Residential Services Division where she oversees foster care, adoption, post release and home study programs, with annual budgets totaling $16.5 million. Garcia also serves as a key liaison between BCFS and its government partners at the federal, state and local level, ensuring compliance, quality assurance, and positive program outcomes for the children, youth and families served.

Under Garcia’s leadership, BCFS’ regional offices across the country continually receive high rankings from federal partners and third party advocacy groups that laud the organization for consistently delivering critical services for children and families in need with exceptional speed, scalability, and quality.

“Celeste is a dynamic leader who invigorates her team and delivers top notch programming,” said Asennet Segura, BCFS Chief Operating Officer. “I know she will not only strengthen our current programs, but also be key in leveraging BCFS locations in other states across the nation to expand our agency’s reach to more children and families in need.”

When she served as National Program Director of BCFS’ Post Release and Home Study Services, Garcia spearheaded the opening of regional offices strategically located around the nation to serve children and families reunited after a separation that sometimes spanned years. Garcia has worked closely with the U.S. departments of Justice, Homeland Security and key international diplomats to ensure BCFS’ operations filled gaps for unmet needs, and exceeded contract requirements.

“Throughout her tenure at BCFS, Celeste has maintained a laser focus on a singular, critical mission: ensuring the best quality placements and environments for children and youth in our care,” said Kevin Dinnin, BCFS President.

Garcia has 14 years of experience advocating for children and families. She earned her Masters of Science in Social Administration at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

BCFS Health and Human Services’ Community Services Division operates centers across Texas that serve youth from the foster care system, teens struggling with homelessness, poverty or a history of abuse, youth in the juvenile justice system, and families. At BCFS centers, youth receive case management, counseling, and assistance with education, employment and housing. Parent support groups and parenting education programs educate families on how to improve communication, resolve conflict, and create a stable, safe home environment for their families.

“No limits” for Texas youth in the Colorado Rockies

BCFS organizes retreat for youth from foster care system:“The Leader in YOU: No Limits”

Youth leadership retreat participants in a team building excersice

NATHROP, CO – After being removed from their biological parents due to abuse, neglect or other family difficulties, youth in the foster care system often spend years – sometimes an entire lifetime – wrestling to overcome their experiences. Statistically, youth in foster care are less likely to graduate college, and are more likely to experience teen pregnancies, unemployment and generational cycles of poverty.

But, when 34 Texas youth primarily from foster care gathered around a Colorado campfire this summer, roasting s’mores, stargazing, and challenging themselves in leadership-building sessions, it was their unique skills and abilities that were front and center, not their limitations. The goal was simple but profound at the camp entitled “The Leader in YOU: No Limits” – inspire the youth to seek and find the strong leader inside them all.

BCFS Health and Human Services organized and fully underwrote a weeklong camp at BCFS’ Silver Cliff Ranch in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, gathering 32 youth from the Texas foster care system and several youth that overcame difficult family histories.

“Many of them had never been out of the state, much less in the mountains of Colorado,” says Stacy Lee, BCFS Program Director of Youth Services. “They were empowered being out of their element. I saw a definite rise in their self-confidence in just one week.”

A convoy of buses picked up youth from BCFS centers across Texas, traveling to McAllen, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Abilene, and Lubbock before finally heading into the Colorado Rocky Mountains loaded with teens and youth, plus staff from BCFS and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

“At the beginning of the camp, we asked the youth to name leaders. We got names like Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and Oprah,” said Lee. “By the end of camp, they understood there are different types of leaders, like a quiet leader or a supportive leader. They realized they could be leaders too, and it’s not just for popular, powerful or out-of-reach people.”

The 34 youth were selected from thousands BCFS serves monthly across Texas as a reward for maintaining high grades in school, successfully completing life skills courses, and staying focused on their goals under the guidance of their BCFS case manager.

Campers scurried into the woods and across the campsite on a leadership scavenger hunt, gathering items symbolizing the core values of a leader: communication, confidence, a positive attitude, inspiration, creativity and being a team player.

Between candid and emotional group discussions, the campers played team games, hiked in the woods surrounding their log cabins, and completed a ropes course which one young camper called his favorite camp activity because it gave him “a chance to help everybody.”

“Interacting with the other campers was my favorite part,” said the teen. “I learned that nothing is impossible. There’s always something you can do.”

Former Major League baseball pitcher Jimmy “The Rookie” Morris, whose story inspired the Disney movie “The Rookie,” led exercises that helped the youth recognize their individual leadership style. Morris distributed awards to the campers, who were eager to snap photos with the ex-pro and get autographed baseballs. Morris serves as BCFS’ Motivational Specialist for children, youth and families throughout the BCFS system of health and human service nonprofits.

“Jimmy asked some of the staff to get in front of everyone and share their personal trials and triumphs to show the youth that everyone goes through hard times,” says Director of BCFS Community Based Services Miriam Attra.

On the last day of camp, the youth were encouraged to show off their hidden talents in a talent show. Attra says she witnessed several young men and women who were initially shy transform into enthusiastic particpants.

“One of our youth opted to share the testimony of her life,” says Attra. “She said the whole camp experience allowed her to open up for the first time, and now she feels more comfortable bringing her guard down and trusting people more.”

“This trip helped me look at things from a different perspective, like the way I think of myself,” said another teen camper. “My teammates and my leaders were very encouraging and they pushed me to do things that I never thought I could do.”

Another young woman says her camp experience inspired her to share what she learned with her peers back home: “I did things that were out of my comfort zone . . . things that I thought I couldn’t do. I hope to one day help other people grow the way I grew.”

BCFS Health and Human Services operates centers across Texas providing case management, counseling, and education and employment assistance to youth in foster care and other youth struggling with poverty, abuse, homelessness or an unstable home life. For more information about BCFS Health and Human Services, visit DiscoverBCFS.net.


BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected; assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities; mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services; medical services; early education; transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system; residential camping and retreats for children and families; and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.

Dodge Jones Foundation Awards $200,000 to BCFS Health and Human Services’ Abilene Transition Center

The Dodge Jones Foundation awarded $200,000 to BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) Abilene Transition Center to expand the facility’s physical footprint and, therefore, it’s capacity to serve more youth and young adults in need throughout the Big Country.
Since opening in 2010, the transition center has quadrupled the number of lives it touches annually. Currently, the center serves approximately 200 youth and families each month, offering support services that include case management; counseling; assistance with education, employment and housing; life skills training; college preparation; and transition planning. It is a “one-stop-shop” for youth in or aging out of foster care, those in the juvenile justice system, or others struggling with challenges such as homelessness, substance abuse, unplanned pregnancy,  and more.
“The growth we’ve experienced in such a short time is truly a testament to the need and effectiveness of the ‘one stop’ model of delivering care,” said Terri Hipps, executive director of BCFS’ Community Services Division.
“The Dodge Jones Foundation has been one of our greatest champions, supporters and partners since opening our doors three years ago,” she continued. “Our shared philosophy recognizes that the investment they are making today is not in BCFS HHS, but rather in the belief that every child in our community, regardless of their past, can be part of the fabric that makes Abilene a safe and prosperous place to call home.”
Collocating with community partners, such as the Texas Workforce Commission and local universities, allows the BCFS HHS center to offer comprehensive – and non-duplicated – services in an effective and cost-efficient manner. Expansion of the center will nearly double its size, making it possible to dedicate more space for partners, as well as bolster the center’s capacity to reach a larger number of youth and families. Construction is planned to begin in January and be completed by springtime.

BCFS Health & Human Services celebrates the opening of Our House

BCFS Health and Human Services today celebrated the opening of its new “Our House” program. BCFS’ Our House is a transitional living home for homeless males between the ages of 18-23, located at 202 Vine Street. The vision for Our House was sparked years ago by the Christian Community Development Coalition (CCDC)….

ABILENE – BCFS Health and Human Services today celebrated the opening of its new “Our House” program. BCFS’ Our House is a transitional living home for homeless males between the ages of 18-23, located at 202 Vine Street.

The vision for Our House was sparked years ago by the Christian Community Development Coalition (CCDC), whose board members included passionate community members like Randy Perkins and Nancy Capra. At CCDC’s request, BCFS took on the project of bringing Our House from a dream to reality.

“It’s hard to chase your dreams when you’re worried about where you’re going to sleep at night or get your next meal,” said Terri Hipps, BCFS Executive Director of Teen and Youth Services.

“Homelessness impacts much more than the individual, it has a compounding effect on the health and prosperity of the whole community,” she continued. “BCFS is proud to have had the strong support of community leaders like Mayor Norm Archibald and the City of Abilene, as well as partner agencies, as we worked to build and open Our House and begin answering this vital need.”

Thanks to funding from numerous private foundations, individual donors, and a community development block grant through the City of Abilene, BCFS’ Our House represents a nearly $345,000 investment in serving struggling Abilene youth. Prior to opening, BCFS ensured that it secured enough revenue to cover Our House’s operating expenses for at least the first year. This tactic was a powerful statement of BCFS’ commitment to be a sustainable, long-term resource for youth and the community.

Youth may stay at Our House for as long as needed, which may range from a few months to a year. The key strength of the project will be its connection with BCFS’ Abilene Transition Center, which opened in 2011 and provides counseling, case management, and education, housing assistance and employment connections to more than 400 youth each year.

Those assisted by the transition center include former foster youth, youth in the juvenile justice system, high school drop outs and homeless young adults. According to the Abilene Independent School District, an estimated 743 students in were homeless at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year. Foster youth are especially vulnerable to homelessness. Within 18 months of aging out of the state foster care system, 50 percent of youth struggle to put a roof over their heads. BCFS’ transition center and Our House project address these issues head-on, providing an easily-accessible and comprehensive network that makes getting help simple for youth.

“We are thankful to the community leaders, the City of Abilene, and our sister agencies, Hendrick Medical Center  and Hardin-Simmons University, for their partnership and support,” said BCFS President and CEO Kevin C. Dinnin.

For more information about BCFS’ work with teen and youth around the world, please visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net.